Things to Think About Before Making a DecisionMarch 2018
One day my husband had the idea that we should buy a camper. I wasn’t on board at first but he kept giving me all the reasons we should get one and I decided he was right! So began our search for the perfect trailer for our family! If you’re in the market to buy a camper, read below to see the steps you should take!
1. Find a Camper That Meets Your Family’s Needs
First we just started searching to see what was out there and there were so many options. There were tiny campers that just had a bed or two and nothing else and campers that had so much that it’d be like staying in a small furnished apartment!
After going through some online I realized that there were definitely things we needed to have in whichever one we chose. We thought about our family and decided that before we could buy a camper we needed to determine the accomodations that were must-haves for us.
We had 2 boys, a large dog, and a little girl on the way at the time. The oldest was 7 and youngest (at the time) was 1.5 years old. We needed something that would work for them while they were younger AND as they get older too.
2. Determine Must-Have Camper Accomodations
- Bunk Beds
- Private master
- Shower and bath tub (for kids)
- Large living space (because: kids)
- Stove Top
- Refrigerator and freezer combo
- Large enough dinette
We needed to buy a camper with bunk beds so the kids would each have a place to sleep. My youngest was still in a crib so we needed something that would have room to put a pack-n-play for him to sleep in.
We found that a longer camper was the best option to give us the space for a pack-n-play and to have bunk beds. Side note: it was a challenge after I had my third baby to figure out sleeping arrangements for all the kids. I didn’t want any of them waking up and disturbing the others. After some searching and trial and error I figured it out and it’s been working great for us. To get some tips and see the products I used, click here.
We needed a master that was separate from the main living/sleeping area because our kids are still young and have an earlier bedtime. This way we would have an area where the kids couldn’t see or hear us if we stayed up later than them.
We needed the camper to have a large living area because there would be 5 of us eventually (and a dog sometimes). We wanted to have enough space to move around comfortably. A slide out was the best option to give us more space in the living area.
We needed to be able to cook and store food for us and the kids so we definitely needed a stove and a refrigerator AND freezer (some trailers only come with a small refrigerator).
We needed a bath tub AND shower because the younger kids still take baths. Even though the bath is somewhat small, it is still a must-have so we can clean our dirty kids on our trips!
3. Determine Camper Wants
- Full-sized bunks
- Entertainment center
- Outdoor cooking area
- Separate bathroom entry from outside
Bunk beds were a necessity but we were hoping to find a camper with full-sized beds so two kids could fit in one bed together if necessary.
We wanted to buy a camper with an entertainment center so we could add a TV and enjoy music on our trips.
An outdoor cooking area and separate bathroom entry were also on our want list but most campers (in our price range and length we were looking at) did not have both. If there was an outdoor entry for the bathroom there usually wasn’t enough space to also have an outdoor cooking area.
We chose the separate bathroom entry option just in case we got dirty outside and needed to get straight into the bathroom. It’s also nice to be able to use the bathroom entry after the kids are asleep so it’s quieter and less likely to wake them.
The amenities we ended up moving forward without were the outdoor cooking area and an oven. We were able to find something with everything else we needed and wanted! The camper we chose (2018 Gulf Stream Kingsport 268BH) had a stove top but unfortunately didn’t have an oven; it had more storage instead. We fixed this by buying a small convection oven and storing it over the sink area and this has actually worked out great for us!
4. Rent Before You Buy a Camper
There are websites available where you can rent campers from other owners. Once you find a camper you’re interested in, rent a similar one to make sure it has everything you need! We didn’t do this first and after traveling with ours we realized that there were probably other things we could have lived without. We could have gotten something a little shorter and cheaper that would have been easier to pull.
5. Test Drive with Your Tow Vehicle
Learn from our mistake and definitely do a test drive with your tow vehicle first. We bought our camper without pulling it with my husband’s truck first. He has a 2016 Ford F150 and while our 29ft travel trailer is under the max towing limit, it still struggles to pull it.
So, was it worth the buy? Definitely! We have been on lots of great journeys, made many great memories, and the kids really enjoy it!
Before you buy I would definitely suggest doing a test drive with whatever you are looking at first with your towing vehicle (in high winds would be even better). Or try renting one (rvhsare.com) or even ours and try it out for yourself first!
If you have anything to share or add, please do so in the comments below!